Why fight against FGM is gaining more ground

Ms Peace Mutuuzo, the Minister of State for Gender and Culture Affairs, during a Sabiny cultural event  at Amanang Primary School in Bukwo District last week. PHOTO/ FILE

What you need to know:

  • Despite being made illegal in the country, FGM is still being practised among some tribes.

In 2016, Sheila Lakot was supposed to undergo Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), a practice that involves removing a female’s external genitalia. She was 16-years-old at the time.
Her father fronted the practice for two major reasons. The first reason was that his daughter would become a suitable candidate for marriage and the second was that it would make him proud.

“He insisted that I should go through with the practice because getting cut would also earn him more bride price,” Lakot , who hails from Karamoja Sub-region, said.
She, however, refused to go through with the ritual because she had heard horrifying stories of girls who had gone through FGM and decided against doing it.  “I had a friend who was cut. She was never the same again after the ritual. She always complained that her private parts were paining,” she said.
Lakot ran away from home and went to live with a relative. Her father disowned her.

Statistics from the 2016 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS) indicate that the national prevalence of FGM among girls and women aged 15 to 49 years is 0.3 percent. 
In Uganda, the practice is still being carried out among the Sabiny in Sebei and  Karamoja sub-regions. 
While addressing a press conference on Friday 4, the British High Commissioner to Uganda, Ms Kate Airey, said everyone’s involvement is crucial in eradicating FGM.
“The progress to end the practice here in Uganda has been a successful story because of the legal framework laws and working with communities, women and girls directly. This holistic approach is making a difference in women and girls’ lives,” Ms Airey said. 

She added: “Keeping girls in school is very important [in the fight against FGM]. The longer they stay in there, the less likely they are to undergo FGM.” 
The Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act, 2020, is one law that is helping in the fight against FGM.  The Act provides for the prosecution and punishment of offenders and the protection of girls and women under threat of FGM.

Ms Susan Ngongi Namondo, the United Nations resident coordinator in Uganda, said:  “A lot of work needs to be done on the services level including ensuring health services for survivors, ensuring education services are improved to discourage the practice, support cross-border advocacy against the practice including information sharing, harmonising legal practices, supporting legal practices.” 

In 2021, Ms Peace Mutuuzo, the Minister of State for Gender and Culture Affairs, said the ministry would focus on eliminating the practice by 2030. She said this would be done through  strengthening male involvement, reinforcing the multi sectoral framework for adolescent girls development, mobilising of resources for establishing community radios in the FGM practicing districts, among others.

About FGM
Dr Simon Mukasa, a general practitioner, says FGM is a very painful practice and risks the health of the victims since it involves the removal of the sensitive clitoris and surrounding skin in a woman’s private parts. Sometimes, the practice may involve repositioning of the labia minora which may complicate natural child birth for girls and women. It has also been said to cause mental health issues.